Continental considers the Russian dandelion an attractive alternative source of natural rubber for its tyres and has conducted research into its suitability for more than a decade. This Taraxagum project now has a new research partner, German plant breeder Kartoffelzucht Böhm.
The German Sustainability Award project is hailed as “Europe’s premier award for environmental and social engagement.” Held annually since 2008 and oriented towards the goals of Agenda 2030, the multi-stakeholder, government-supported awards honour those working towards a more sustainable future. Awardees for 2021 include Continental, whose Urban Taraxagum bicycle tyre caught the judging panel’s attention. The tyre is an award-winner in the Responsible Design category.
Continental has been recognised for its bicycle tyres manufactured with dandelion rubber with a brace of design awards. The Urban Taraxagum has won the prestigious Red Dot Design award, and the E-Bike Design & Innovation Award in the Sustainability & Green category by Focus E-Bike magazine. The two awards recognised different aspects of the tyre. The Red Dot Award lauded the design of the tread of the tyre, based on the cell shape of the dandelion. Meanwhile Focus E-Bike commended the sustainability of rubber extraction from dandelions.
The miniscule pieces of plant root that Dr Tobias Ruckert shows us look for all the world like fresh spices, but the recipes he prepares with them aren’t for eating. These roots are from the Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS) plant, better known as Russian dandelion. Continental has been evaluating its suitability as an alternative source of natural rubber for much of the past decade.
The judges of the d&i awards 2020, which are presented in association with the Taipei Cycle Show in Taiwan, have honoured Continental with their highest accolade. They awarded the d&i Golden Award to the Continental Urban Taraxagum, praising both the tyre’s production from locally-sourced dandelion rubber as well as its tread and sidewall design. The Taipei Cycle Show itself had to be cancelled on account of the coronavirus pandemic but the awards were nevertheless presented.
Locally-sourced alternatives to natural rubber, such as Continental’s ‘Taraxagum’ Russian dandelion project, look set to benefit from new government policy in Germany. Yesterday, the German cabinet approved its ‘Nationale Bioökonomiestrategie’ (National Bioeconomy Strategy). This brings together existing bioeconomy strategies and paves the way for further development in this area, including funding for research.
In Anklam, near Germany’s Baltic coast, Continental is setting up a centre to oversee its efforts to industrialise rubber sourced from Russian dandelions for use in tyre production. Groundbreaking on the Taraxagum Lab Anklam facility took place last November, and Continental reports that the first machine for extracting rubber from the roots of the Russian dandelion plant was installed several days ago.
The Taraxagum research project into the use of rubber from Russian dandelions in tyres has led to Continental and Professor Dirk Prüfer from the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology being awarded the University of Münster’s Transfer Prize. Continental shares that the €10,000 prize was awarded for the successful transfer of expertise from biotechnology research to commercial application.
With sods of soil sliding from shiny shovels, work on the Continental ‘Taraxagum Lab Anklam’ research and test laboratory officially began on Monday. Construction of the facility will now begin in earnest, and Continental Reifen Deutschland anticipates that the lab, based near Germany’s Baltic coast, will be operational in autumn 2018. Continental is investing a total of 35 million euros in the project, a sum supported by a subsidy of 11.6 million euros from the Ministry of Economics in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
For the past six years, Continental has worked with partners on projects to source rubber from Russian dandelions for its tyre production. In 2016, the company announced plans to establish a new facility for industrialising this process. A seven-acre site in Anklam, not far from Germany’s Baltic coast, was selected for this research laboratory. The tyre maker now reports that groundbreaking for the 35 million-euro initial phase of its Taraxagum Lab Anklam will take place this coming Monday.
Continental reports that plans to establish a research facility for its ‘Taraxagum’ Russian dandelion rubber project in Anklam, Germany have gained council approval. With this box ticked, the tyre maker is now in the process of acquiring around seven and a half acres (3 hectares) of land in a local business park and obtaining a building permit prior to erecting the first building on the site.
Natural rubber derived from dandelion roots is making its debut in truck and bus tyres and components produced by Continental. The German manufacturer will unveil a number of products that contain this raw material at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show this month, including Conti EcoPlus HD3 tyres made during the summer. These items merely offer a taste of things to come, however, as Continental states that production of Taraxagum – the name given to its dandelion rubber – will commence sometime within the next five to ten years.
Work on its ‘Taraxagum – Dandelion Rubber Tires’ project has won Continental both the Innovation and the Green Award at Automechanika 2016. Maria Hanczuch from the Continental Business Development for Passenger and Light Truck Tires business unit accepted the award at the Frankfurt show on behalf of the tyre maker.
The Automechanika Innovation Awards 2016 have been announced – and tyre manufacturer Continental and tyre equipment manufacturer Corghi are amongst the winners. On 23 August 2016, the independent jury of nine experts reached agreement on eight award winners whose innovative solutions and future-oriented products will be presented for the first time in an interactive special show in the ‘Festhalle’ during the coming Automechanika Frankfurt on 13 September 2016.
A new research facility for industrialising the cultivation and processing of rubber harvested from Russian dandelions will be set up in Germany as part of Continental’s plan to bring tyres containing this rubber to market under the ‘Taraxagum’ brand name. On 12 August, the company presented plans to establish such a facility in Anklam, near the Baltic Sea island of Usedom. Continental will operate the Taraxagum Lab Anklam in collaboration with the IME Fraunhofer Institute, Julius Kühn Institute, Quedlinburg, and plant breeding specialist firm Eskusa GmbH.